Recently, Mark Zuckerberg joyfully announced on Facebook that he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are expecting a daughter. More solemnly, he added that Chan had experienced three miscarriages before this pregnancy. He shared this personal story as a gesture of support and solidarity with other couples facing similar difficulties. It had meant a lot to him when his friends who had struggled to have children shared their experiences, and now it was his turn.
Zuckerberg’s Facebook post sparked an outpouring of tens of thousands of congratulatory messages, including a remarkable number of miscarriage stories. There is a real hunger for this kind of sharing.
Why are we eager for new ways to commiserate over our experiences of early pregnancy loss? Is this an expression of a long-suppressed need? Or has something about the experience of pregnancy changed?
As a historian, I see many ways in which dramatic, mostly-positive social changes of the past two centuries have had unintended consequences when it comes to early pregnancy loss…